The 55 billion pound question

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Our Chief Economist, John Appleby, cuts up the 'NHS cake' to show where all the money has gone.

The traditional complaint - not least from the NHS itself - used to be that the health service was underfunded.

For decades, compared with our European neighbours we spent less per head and less as a proportion of our wealth on health care.

Successive governments countered this in part by replying that the NHS was a particularly efficient system and so did not need to spend as much as the French or the Germans.

But all this changed in 2000 when Tony Blair committed his government to spend significantly more on the NHS; the goal was to match the average spend across the (old) European Union. And now, seven years later public plus private health spend across the UK is nudging close to 9.3% of GDP - a rise of over 2 percentage points. Indeed, since 2000, cash spend on the UK NHS alone has more than doubled - by around £55 billion.

The question now however is: what’s happened to all this money? Is the NHS a better health service? Is it carrying out more operations? And, crucially, is our health improving as a result?

Read the full article from Radio 4